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Florida Sheriffs Association Cold Case Advisory Commission Assists in Breakthrough to Close 30-Year-Old Case

August 09, 2023

In a momentous development, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office has made a breakthrough in the 30-year-old cold case of Jennifer Odom, bringing justice and closure to a long-standing mystery. The Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) Cold Case Advisory Commission, formed with the mission of revisiting unresolved cases, played a crucial role in reopening the Jennifer Odom case. This landmark arrest marks a testament to the unwavering commitment of FSA and Florida’s Sheriffs to solve lingering cold cases and protect their communities.

In 1993, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office launched an intensive investigation into the disappearance and tragic murder of 12-year-old Jennifer Odom. Advances in the case were hampered by the lack of advanced DNA testing technology available at the time of the crime, but the agencies involved never gave up hope. Over the last 30 years, thousands of leads were investigated, and hundreds of pieces of evidence were collected, tested and retested as new technologies became available.

With personnel and specialty resource support from the FSA Cold Case Advisory Commission, a major DNA advancement ultimately led to the arrest of Jeffery Crum in Jennifer Odom’s cold case. Crum is now being held in the Hernando County Jail on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual battery.

“The investigation never stopped. We remained committed to this case and we are proud to see our hard work pay off with the arrest of Jeffery Crum,” said Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis. “The resolution of the Jennifer Odom case highlights the power of collaboration, determination and the unwavering pursuit of justice that fuels our work.”

Many sheriffs’ offices throughout Florida have unsolved homicide and missing person cases in an open status pending additional evidence or information. In some of these cases, attention and resources may be diverted away from aggressively pursuing a resolution due to limited resources being dedicated to recently committed crimes.

The FSA Cold Case Advisory Commission, under the leadership of Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast, works closely with local and national law enforcement agencies to revisit old evidence, explore new leads and utilize advanced forensic technologies to shed light on these unsolved cases. The work of the Commission has rekindled hope for victims’ families and the communities affected by these crimes.

“The Commission’s work has been pivotal in solving not only the Jennifer Odom case, but also working to be strategic and aggressive in numerous other cold cases across the state,” said Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast, Chair of the Commission. “Their dedication to seeking justice and bringing closure to the families affected by these heinous crimes is truly commendable.”

The closure of the Jennifer Odom case serves as a reminder that no crime will be forgotten or dismissed. The FSA Cold Case Advisory Commission remains firmly dedicated to supporting sheriffs in resolving unsolved cases.

“The Florida Sheriffs Association is steadfast in our mission to provide effective and innovative programs to support the work of our state’s sheriffs to ensure the safety and well-being of all Floridians,” FSA President and Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper says. “As we continually seek new ways to enhance our programs and adapt to evolving challenges, our focus remains on empowering communities and ensuring Florida remains a safe place for everyone.”

Jennifer Odom 1993

Jeffrey Crum 1993

Jeffrey Crum 2019

 

Based on the nature of the crime and Crum’s lengthy criminal history, investigators believe Crum may have additional undiscovered victims. Sheriff Al Nienhuis urges any citizen with knowledge of such crimes to please come forward and call Detective Loydgren (Hernando County Sheriff’s Office) at 352-754-6830.

For more information on the Florida Sheriffs Association Cold Case Advisory Commission and its work, please visit our website here.

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About Florida Sheriffs Association
The Florida Sheriffs Association is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation made up of the Sheriffs of Florida, approximately 3,000 business leaders and 100,000 citizens throughout the state. Founded in 1893, FSA has steadfastly served the citizens of Florida by supporting the needs of the state's law enforcement community. Through the Florida Sheriffs Association, Sheriffs are given a forum to address lawmakers to push for positive changes in Florida’s public safety arena. FSA also provides Sheriffs' Offices much-needed programs such as affordable training, special task forces and legislative and legal services. Dedicated to the prevention of juvenile delinquency and the development of lawful, productive citizens, FSA has established and funded the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches with facilities throughout the state to help restore hope, fulfill dreams, and prepare boys and girls for the future. It has grown to be one of the largest and most successful state law enforcement associations in the nation. For more information on the Florida Sheriffs Association, visit www.dev.flsheriffs.org.